Summative Assessments

Making the Switch
Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
Summative Assessments
The month of June is a happy one: the weather is warm, the pools are open, and the days are rapidly ticking down to summer vacation, that time of year that every student yearns for.  It’s marred by just one thing: finals week.  During the weeks leading up to finals, hordes of students can be seen rushing around with textbooks and calculators, hoping to cram in as much studying they can in order to obtain the last ten percent of their yearly grades.  While final exams are the most widely accepted way to assess overall performance, they are not the most accurate representation of how much a student has learned and understood over the past school year.

The school board is well aware of inaccuracies that finals may cause. According to Mr. Groh, the administration has found that finals are created to be graded quickly at the end of the year, and are often in a different format than students are used to because of the necessity to get the grades in on time.  Additionally, a vast majority of final exam grades are at least one letter lower than a student’s average marking period grades are, making them a faulty measure of a student’s performance.  In reference to the switch, Mr. Groh commented that “[finals] haven’t been a benefit, and they haven’t been as accurate as the work students have been doing all year.”

Therefore, beginning this school year, Chatham will be replacing finals with less rigid summative assessments, which may take the form of tests, essays, or projects.  They will be required in every full year course, including APs, and each assessment will be counted on the marking period it is taken in as opposed to being a percentage of one’s final grade.  Tests are required to be given three times per year, and will only cover information from the most recent units instead of from the full year.  Instead of a “finals week” format, teachers will be able to give these assessments according to their own schedules and course curriculum, making them less disruptive to regular classroom learning.  Furthermore, the last week of school will still consist of four half days like it has in the past, and while summative assessments can be scheduled for these days, they are not required to be given during this time period.

Overall, the introduction of summative assessments is a step in the right direction for Chatham High School.  Final exams required students to take tests in every subject, covering all the information they learned throughout the school year over the span of four days.  Now with summative assessments, students will be able to take more frequent tests on smaller amounts of information, leading to more accurate portrayals of the students’ understanding of material. The new school year is bringing changes that will be beneficial for students and teachers alike, leading to more success for both parties and the school as a whole.